BONTOC, Mountain Province – The participants of the 1st Quarter Nationwide Simultaneous Earthquake Drill (NSED) at 9:00 in the morning of March 10, 2022, in this capital town are earthquake-ready, but with minimal observations that need improvement.
The participants were students, faculty, and non-teaching staff of schools in the Central Barangays of Bontoc; staff and clients of the Cooperative Bank of Mountain Province; and clients, officials, and employees of the Bontoc Local Government Unit (LGU) and the national government agencies with offices located at Bontoc Municipal Capitol.
The schools that participated in the 1st Quarter NSED are Bontoc Central School, Saint Vincent’s School- High School Department, Bontoc Ili Primary School, Pukisan Elementary School, All Saints Mission School, Incorporated, Saint Vincent School- Elementary Department, Samoki Elementary School, Ut-utan Elementary School, and Mountain Province General Comprehensive High School.
During “shake drills”, participants are expected to properly execute the six steps necessary to do during an earthquake. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the third phase which is the evacuation phase, and the fourth phase (assembly at the designated evacuation area) were suspended to prevent possible exposure to the virus.
Prior to the conduct of the earthquake drill, Bontoc Mayor Franklin Odsey who is also the chairperson of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC) wrote a letter to the above-mentioned schools for their active participation in the 1st Quarter NSED and highlighted the suspension of the third phase which is the evacuation phase, and the fourth phase (assembly at the designated evacuation area).
However, some schools opted to conduct the evacuation phase and the assembly at the designated evacuation area, for their students not to forget the proper execution of the six steps. Also, they have a spacious location as their designated evacuation area and complied with the health protocols during the evacuation and assembly.
The participants were assessed based on their execution of the other steps not temporarily suspended.
First is the alarm such as the siren or bell, as a prearranged signal that indicates the occurrence of an earthquake or ground shaking.
The second is the response. While the siren or bell is ongoing, everyone shall move away from windows, glass, or lights. It is also in this phase that everyone shall perform the “duck, cover, and hold” under desks, tables, or chairs and remain in this position until the ground shaking stops.
The fifth phase is the headcount wherein the head of the office shall check and make sure that are all accounted for.
Per observation by the evaluators, most of the participants were responsive and properly executed the “duck, cover, and hold technique” and moved away from the windows, cabinet, and electrical lights. Also, most of the participating schools and offices checked for any sustained injuries and performed the headcount.
However, some participants did not properly execute the “duck, cover, and hold technique”; some continued with what they were doing and were not aware of the earthquake drill; some did not perform the headcount. Also, one school rang its bell 10-minute earlier before the 9:00 siren that confused the participants and neighboring school.
All observations were relayed by the evaluators to the concerned schools and offices to further improve their earthquake preparedness.
Bontoc Mayor Franklin Odsey in an interview remarked that the conduct of quarterly earthquake drills is necessary as it intensifies readiness, awareness, and responsiveness of the public. He enjoined the cooperation of all sectors to take the activity seriously.
Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer Johanna Padaen extended her gratitude to all the offices and agencies that assessed the participants stressing that their recommendations are of great help to improve the earthquake preparedness of the community.
The workforces during the earthquake drill are members of the Bontoc Emergency Response Team, personnel from the Bontoc Municipal Fire Station, Bontoc Municipal Police Station (MPS), and some employees of the Bontoc LGU.
The NSED is a regular activity spearheaded by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) which is cascaded down to local DRRMs to promote a culture of safety awareness and foresight among all people.